Erin Sugrue

Assistant Professor

Memorial Hall 8
CB 51

Dr. Sugrue’s approach to teaching is based on the belief that meaningful learning involves not solely the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, but the integration of these new skills and understandings into one’s perspectives, beliefs, and actions. This sort of meaningful learning occurs within the context of relationships, whether it be the relationship between the instructor and the student, the relationships among students, or the relationship of the individual student and the course material.  Thus, Dr. Sugrue views one of her primary roles as a teacher is to create an environment in which relationships for learning can develop.  In fostering a culture of curiosity, mutual respect, and shared learning, Dr. Sugrue aims to evoke the quintessential parallel process – providing an experience and a process model that students can transfer to their work with the clients and communities with whom they practice social work.

Dr. Sugrue’s current research focuses on identifying and understanding issues of social, racial, and economic injustice within the public education and child welfare systems, with the goal of developing policy and practice changes that lead to system-level transformation.  Both the child welfare and public education systems are oriented towards promoting and supporting the well-being and healthy development of children and youth.  However, these systems can enact and reinforce the racial and economic injustices that dominate larger American society, resulting in harm to individual children and families and a betrayal of the ideals and promises in which the systems are based. Dr. Sugrue’s interest in this area is predominantly linked with her practice experience, which includes 11 years as a licensed school social worker in the Twin Cities metro area.


  • B.A. Grinnell College
  • M.S.W. University of Minnesota
  • M.P.P. University of Minnesota
  • Ph.D. University of Minnesota


Sugrue, E.P.  (2018). A “bad fit” for “our” kids: Politics, identity, and power in parental discourse on educational programming and child well-being.  Critical Discourse Studies.

Sugrue, E.P. (2017). The professional legitimation of early school social work: An historical analysis.  School Social Work Journal, 42(1), 16-36.

Haight, W., Sugrue, E., Calhoun, M., & Black, J. (2017). Everyday coping with moral injury: The perspectives of professionals and parents involved with child protection services.  Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 108-121.

Haight, W., Sugrue, E., Calhoun, M., & Black, J. (2017). “Basically, I look at it like combat”: Reflections on moral injury by parents involved with child protection services.  Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 477-489.

Haight, W., Sugrue, E., & Calhoun, M. (2017). Moral injury among child protection professionals: Implications for the ethical treatment and retention of workers. Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 27-41.

Sugrue, E.P.  & Lightfoot, E. (2017). Preschool policymaking by stealth: An alternative framework for the policy process. Journal of Policy Practice, 16(4), 332-350.

Haight, W., Sugrue, E., Calhoun, M., & Black, J. (2016). A scoping study of moral injury: Identifying directions for social work research. Children and Youth Services Review70, 190-200.

Sugrue, E.P., Zuel, T., Laliberte, T.  (2016). The ecological context of chronic school absenteeism in the elementary grades. Children & Schools, 38(3), 137-145.